• Former US Navy Adm. William McRaven, the Navy SEAL who oversaw the raid that took out al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, wrote an opinion column criticizing the Trump administration and defending former acting Director of National Intelligence Joe Maguire.
  • “I have known Joe for more than 40 years. There is no better officer, no better man and no greater patriot,” McRaven wrote in the column published in The Washington Post on Friday evening. 
  • Maguire, a retired US Navy vice admiral, served in the military for 36 years, much of it as a Navy SEAL.
  • McRaven’s column comes a week after President Donald Trump was reportedly incensed at Maguire’s decision to allow congressional lawmakers to be briefed on Russia’s efforts to prop Trump amid the 2020 US presidential election.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Former US Navy Adm. William McRaven, the Navy SEAL who oversaw the raid that took out al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, wrote an opinion column criticizing the Trump administration and defending former acting Director of National Intelligence Joe Maguire.

“I have known Joe for more than 40 years. There is no better officer, no better man and no greater patriot,” McRaven wrote in the column published in The Washington Post on Friday evening. 

Maguire, a retired US Navy vice admiral, served in the military for 36 years, much of it as a Navy SEAL. He officially resigned as the acting intelligence chief on Friday, according to CNN, after Trump reportedly berated him in the Oval Office and made clear that he would choose an alternative official to replace him.

Joseph Maguire

Joseph Maguire speaks before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 25, 2018

Nicholas Kamm/Reuters


“The president chose Maguire,” McRaven wrote in his column. “And, like most of these good men and women, he came in with the intent to do his very best, to follow the rules, to follow the law and to follow what was morally right.”

“But, of course, in this administration, good men and women don’t last long,” McRaven added. “Joe was dismissed for doing his job: overseeing the dissemination of intelligence to elected officials who needed that information to do their jobs.”

In a briefing with lawmakers last week, a senior intelligence official revealed that Russia was interfering ahead of the 2020 presidential election, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Shelby Pierson, Maguire’s aide and head of the DNI’s election security unit, told members of the House Intelligence Committee on February 13 that the US intelligence community has assessed that Russia is trying to secure Trump’s re-election.

A 2017 intelligence report on the 2016 election stated that “Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” During her briefing before lawmakers last week, Pierson repeatedly said that Russia had “developed a preference” for Trump, The Washington Post reported Friday, citing a US official familiar with her comments.

The intelligence briefing appears to have cost Maguire the opportunity to become the Director of National Intelligence. The Post reports that he was a leading candidate. On Wednesday, Trump announced that US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, considered a Trump loyalist, would become the new acting DNI.

In addition to Maguire’s departure, ODNI’s Principal Executive Andrew Hallman also resigned on Friday, CNN reported.

McRaven warned that “as Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation.”

“When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil,” he added.

McRaven has penned several opinion columns scrutinizing Trump’s presidency. While it is not uncommon for retired senior officers to speak for or against a sitting president, McRaven’s comments have attracted significant attention due to his seniority and service.

Weeks after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, McRaven expressed concern over the president’s continued attacks against the media.

“The president said the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said in a speech at the University of Texas on February 21, 2017. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

In a separate Washington Post opinion column in August 2018, McRaven criticized Trump and the White House’s decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan.

“I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency,” McRaven wrote.

McRaven’s 36-year military career was marked by several high-profile accomplishments, including his leadership role in Operation Neptune Spear, targeting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, in 2011. He retired from the Navy in 2014 and became the chancellor of the University of Texas system in 2015. Two years later, he said he would leave that job, citing health concerns.

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